The Food Foundry, a Chicago-based growth accelerator by Relish Works, Chicago, in partnership with Gordon Food Service, Wyoming, Mich., and 1871, Chicago, will be launching its second cohort in January 2020.

The Food Foundry program combines the resources of a national foodservice distributor with a premiere regional startup ecosystem and deep professional expertise in human-centered design and concept testing. The program supports startups by providing access to key foodservice resources such as supply chain, distribution and stores, along with professional expertise, guidance and connections to an extensive network of restaurant operators and entrepreneurs.

“With The Food Foundry, we saw an opportunity to help companies that are leading the evolution of the food ecosystem, and our first cohort was a huge success. I’m looking forward to building upon that success and the passionate, creative and driven people we’ll have the opportunity to work with this year,” says Nick Florek, director of The Food Foundry.

The Food Foundry is customized to the needs of startups, including one week of curriculum per month in Chicago and three weeks of change implementation based on those learnings. It also provides:

  • $75,000 in venture capital funding per startup.
  • Access to expertise from Gordon Food Service for mentorship and opportunities to assist growth.
  • Tailored curriculum, workshops and mentorship from seasoned founders and advisors.
  • Membership to 1871 and its exclusive system of perks, workshops, mentors and networking.
  • Dedicated office and meeting spaces.
  • Access to Relish Work’s co-investor network to raise capital for scaling operations.
  • Ability to tap into and leverage Relish Work’s experts in design, business operations and branding.

“It’s a privilege to partner once again with Relish Works and Gordon Food Service to further innovation in the food space,” says Betsy Ziegler, chief executive officer of 1871. “We exist to inspire, support and equip founders to build great businesses, and we’re thrilled to continue that mission in the food distribution industry by sharing our resources, network and expertise with this upcoming cohort.”

In addition to 1871’s offerings, participants will gain access to the full resources and expertise of Gordon Food Service’s wholesale food distribution and market-facing stores, including facilities for testing solutions, supplier relationships, industry experience and access to design, business and branding experts.

“Gordon Food Service is a company that was built on innovation, and pushing the boundaries of our industry is in our DNA. The first cohort of The Food Foundry enabled us to work with inspiring individuals who had new and fresh perspectives on problems we face everyday, and they challenged us to think differently. I’m excited to continue supporting this program and our continued partnership with 1871 in doing so,” says Rich Wolowski, North American president and CEO, Gordon Food Service.